skip navigation
Hell Below

Hell Below(1933)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

According to an onscreen foreword, this film was "produced with the cooperation of the Navy Department" and is "dedicated to those officers and men of the United States Navy who, in peace and war, volunteer their lives in one of the most hazardous branches of its service-submarines." The working title of the film was Pigboats. A October 1931 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Harry Pollard was to direct the film. Another October 1931 Hollywood Reporter item stated that M-G-M stopped production on the film that month because of bad weather, but was planning to resume shooting in the spring of 1932. The same article mentions that a copy of the script was sent to the British Navy for approval, as the story detailed the operations of a World War I British submarine. In the final script, however, the submarines were American, not British. According to Film Daily, scenes in the production were shot in Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Hollywood Reporter news items add Matt McHugh, James Donlan, Frank Marlowe and Bradley Page to the cast. Their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Actor Edwin Styles made his screen acting debut in the film. According to a Film Daily news item, the photographic crew rigged up a "series of lenses and prisms" on the camera in order to film through an actual periscope and "sight a destroyer for a torpedo target." According to Daily Variety, the preview running time of the film was 155 minutes, indicating that considerable footage was cut for the general release. The Motion Picture Herald review in mid-April 1933 lists the running time as 78 minutes, while Variety, which reviewed the picture in New York in early May, gives a running time of 105 minutes. Motion Picture Herald release charts also give the running time as 105 minutes. It is not known if the Motion Picture Herald time is an error, or if the film was cut further before its general release. Variety notes that in New York the film enjoyed a "$2 dollar" run. When a 1931 Fox film, Seas Beneath (see below), was in production, Fox executives were concerned that Edward Ellsberg's novel, which was first published in Adventure on 15 November and December 1, 1930 and was copyrighted after their script was copyrighted, was suspiciously similar to their story. Fox did not pursue a plagiarism suit, however.